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Topics - Rika84

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Story Critique / See?
« on: 01:53 PM, 01/14/18 »
You know that feeling of being watched, right? I think everyone does. Or, at least, I hope everyone does. I've gotten conflicting opinions from "professionals" about whether the kinds of thoughts I have are "normal". I say, "Everyone has these thoughts, right?" The answer sends the brain-train chugging down the tracks. But back to the feeling of being watched. It's a feeling I've had most of my life. Hindsight being 20/20, it should have been one of the first red flags to sprout from my curly red head screaming, "help, I'm scared of everything!"

When I was 5, my parents tried to take me to a restaurant in the next town. I couldn't tell you what it was called; Captain's Table? Fisherman's Table? Every time we drove past the place I screwed my eyes shut to avoid the dead, pale, ever-watchful gaze of that massive cardboard mariner in the fading yellow rain gear. I screamed and sobbed and dug my shoes into the gravel as Mom dragged me towards that watcher's lair.

"You're going in," she insisted.

"She's going back," said Dad with my sister in his arms, bringing the miraculous news that the restaurant was too full to bother.

But that's not super weird, you know? Kids get scared of big dumb billboards and stuff. I could tell you about, like, 4 more right now. The fat owly troll at the winery, that cloudy-eyed salmon of the Coho motel ad coming into town and his properly-pupiled counterpart on Highway 42… Big scary cartoony kid stuff, watching, seeing me. I know better now, of course, but I'm trying to show you. You know what it's like.

Those signs were really there, and some of them are still there, but as I got older there were a lot of things that weren't there. And I knew they weren't there, nobody had to tell me that. But I could see them, and they could see me, and I could see them seeing me, and it would freeze me to the spot. Or send me in a breathless power-walk back to my room with my hands to my face like a horse's blinders. It depended on where and when, but you know how that goes.

At night I would get up to use the bathroom. No issues on the way there. But opening the door to leave, I'd always see it, without fail, my made-up lobster-monster. It's 6 feet tall and pale peachy pink with a bulbous head, bent, face in my face, with its big bug-eyes and impossible grin. And every time, I put up the blinders and zipped down the hall, through the kitchen, down the stairs, and back into bed. Silly, right? I got used to it though. Didn't you?

The one I never got used to was being 9 or 10 or 11, alone in my room, radio pumping the hits of the 80's and 90's at a moderate volume, and I wanted to dance so bad. I wanted to run around and flail my arms and shut my eyes and rock. But I could feel them watching. Those 3 "popular" girls from our small class of 18. Short, blonde Danielle, her brunette "bff" Andrea, and wide-faced Marissa, or at least my brain's projection of them. Always just out of sight out the western window, smiling, laughing, and judging more than the real girls ever would. (They were always nice to me, really.)

So through every favorite song, my butt was planted to the bed, feet rooted to the floor, my eyes were fixed on the swirling cotton candy pink of the south wall, letting the music happen. Even I will admit that's pretty ridiculous, but I'm a grown woman now. I've learned to "dance like no one is watching."

But, like, I get it. These feelings are just a part of me. When I have them now, they're small and like old friends checking up on me. I'm telling you, I've got this down, all figured out.

So that's how I know this is the real deal. Yes, I'm sure. And it's not just me. He's watching you too. See? Here, there he is, Tuesday, two tables away from you at the food court in front of the Qdoba. And here, up the slope from that basement window that looks into your office. You wouldn't see anyone from that angle. And look, the look on your back door is busted or something, you can see it right there. It opens so easily, you need to get that fixed. I'm telling you all this because you're my friend, and I don't want to see you get hurt.

Don't worry too much. I'm watching out for you, I promise. Still, be careful, okay?

You know it's going to be one-of-those-weeks when your grandmother calls you up screaming about a dead body. She's getting a bit senile, and even before that she had a tendency to focus on the wrong details. Maybe not the "wrong" ones, but the details but that were most important to her. The phone call itself was all "body" this and "investigation" that, "Of course I don't know what's in your grandfather's storage unit. Who cares? Somebody died!" An 8-hour drive later, I prayed for no surprises as I opened Unit #23.

It was musty. There was an odor that "stale" only begins to describe. An urgent discomfort began to set in as I scanned the floor of the unit. As I shone my flashlight beneath a bed frame, my eyes rested on some dry-looking clump of straw. The longer I looked at it, though, the less it looked like plant matter. After a few moments, my brain allowed me to distinguish a rodent's face.

"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit," I chattered through clenched teeth as I stiffly power-walked up the pavement. The flashlight batteries rattled with each 45-degree swing of my arm. I strode up to the nearest police officer with a rigid smile.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"There is, uh, dead thing, animal," I breathed haltingly, "I, um, can't do that." I was pointing in the direction of Unit #23 as if the gesture communicated something more than I could spit out.

She nodded knowingly. "I'll be right there." Three minutes later she met me at the unit with a shovel. I watched from the doorway as she pried the long-dead thing from the concrete. It crackled like Styrofoam as it tore free. I held my breath as she carried it out and tipped it into a nearby metal trash can. She replaced the lid and gave me a thumbs up before leaving me. I breathed again.

The rest of the unit looked clean enough, so I refocused myself to the task at hand.

My grandparents have lived in Havre all their lives. Mom isn't very close to them. She left Montana to "find herself" at 18 and never looked back. I met my grandparents a few times growing up, but only recently have I gotten to know them better. Two years ago, Grandpa's aging body began to fail him and he needed to be moved to a skilled nursing facility. Grandma was slowing down herself, and she wasn't confident about handling the household affairs alone. So she reached out to the oldest granddaughter, me, for help. I drove up from Spokane and moved them into suitable apartments. I sold the house, sold some stuff, closed some credit cards, called some lawyers, and so on. At least I'll be a pro at this by the time my parents get old.

And yet, through the whole process, nobody mentioned the storage unit. I don't think Grandma even knew about it. It was tied to Grandpa's checking account, which he wouldn't let me touch, and it took us nearly an hour to find the key and the paperwork. Because of that lengthy search, combined with the long drive before that, it was quarter after 5 by the time I got to Unit 23. I only had time to look around and assess the situation before closing.

Fortunately, the unit wasn't very packed. The largest item inside, which caught my eye immediately, was a wooden twin-sized bed frame. I doubted my grandparents would want to keep it unless it carried some huge sentimental value. Everything else in the unit was boxed up. The boxes would just about fit in my car. It was a relief to think I could get through this without a rental truck. The boxes were unlabeled. I grabbed the nearest one to take with me. I had to start somewhere.

That evening, I settled into my room on the ground floor of the Siesta Motel. It wasn't a palace, but anything was preferable to folding myself onto Grandma's couch for the week. When I felt as mentally prepared as I was going to be, I set the box on the bed and opened it up.
Clothes. It was a box full of clothes, neatly folded and tightly packed. That seemed normal enough, but whose clothes were these? They looked like a young adult's clothes: t-shirts, jeans, a few formal shirts. They might have been trendy a few decades ago. Were these my mother's? They looked a bit masculine, but that wouldn't be out of character for her. I looked at the tags on some of the nicer-looking garments. They were some boutique brand I'd never heard of. I bet they cost a pretty penny. They were probably still worth a few bucks, too, as they looked like they'd hardly been worn. It was possible these were left behind when Mom moved out, but why keep these? Deciding it was nothing worth losing sleep over, I turned in for the night.

I woke up too early Wednesday morning, but I didn't mind. I curled up with my Kindle and flipped through my collection of public domain classics for a few hours. Around 9:30 I started my day by heading out to Marg Madness for a breakfast burrito. It burned my tongue, but warmed my soul. Then it was back to Unit 23.
The boxes and bedframe were as I had left them. In the daylight, I noticed a collection of cleaning supplies resting behind the bed. A push-broom, a mop and bucket, a pile of rags, and a half-full jug of Clorox bleach were soon on the floor of my car's back seat. I had intended to spend the rest of the morning cramming the boxes into the car, but the next box I happened to grab stopped me in my tracks. It was heavy and packed with papers. Lying on top was a scrapbook.

The scrapbook wasn't large, and it wasn't fancy. The cover was a factory-perfect arboreal design I was sure I'd seen at several drugstores before. Its contents, though, were anything but familiar. Between the covers were pages and pages of photos of my grandparents with kids and young adults I'd never seen. There were school assignments, artwork, letters and pressed trinkets throughout. Puzzled, I pulled a few of the papers from the box. Several of them were on letterhead reading "Montana DHHS, Child and Family Services".

My mouth hung open in wonder. I couldn't pick a single question out of the dozens buzzing around my mind. These boxes could wait. I needed to talk to Grandma.

She opened the door with the same agitated energy I had come to expect. "My goodness, deary, you could have called! Not that I wasn't expecting to see you again. You're in town, after all. But I have nothing ready! All I have is milk. Would you like some milk? But you should have called, dear."
I took a seat on the couch and let Grandma fuss for a while. I'd learned that was the best course of action. Whatever was on Grandma's mind is the story of the hour, no matter how trivial. She would hear of nothing else until she was through. Grandma found some lemonade, and so she made a pitcher of lemonade. She brought me a glass of lemonade, and, oh, how did I like the lemonade? After I assured her several times that I loved the lemonade, Grandma asked me how things were.

As I brought the scrapbook into view, her whole demeanor changed. Grandma mellowed and un-busied her hands. "Well, now," she said gently, taking the book from me. It was the shortest phrase I'd ever heard from her. She ran her hands over the cover as she thought about where to begin.

"When your mother moved out as suddenly as she did, your grandpa and I felt, well, at a loss. We were still young. The 'empty-nester' life didn't suit us. So, we decided to be foster parents. We expected it to be difficult, but…" she smiled thoughtfully, "your mother had prepared us for that, so we thought. As it turned out, we had so many good kids."

She began the tour of the scrapbook. "This is Roger. He was 11 when he came to us." An olive-skinned boy with a curly mop of hair posed with Grandpa next to a replica of "The Thinker". His pages were full of drawings on notebook paper and copy paper. "And Amy," she said, turning the page, "She was in foster care nearly all her life, but she didn't stay long with us. I think we left an impression, though." A blond-haired blue-eyed teenage girl lay in a hospital bed with a newborn. My grandparents were at their side. The photo was followed by about 7 postcards spanning several years and a few baby pictures.

"Then there was Miles. Poor dear, he came from such a bad situation… anyway, it was such a treat to watch him come out of his shell." Over the course of 3 pages, the little boy with the dark complexion gradually showed more of his face and his smile. There was a small pressed bouquet of clovers next to a handmade card on pink construction paper.

Grandma heaved a sigh as she turned the page. "And Jeremy." The classic moody white teenage boy with a beanie pulled far down on his forehead. Two pages. Two photos and an obituary. I held my breath and looked up at Grandma. "He liked computers, and he liked his Atari. Are you surprised that I remember Atari? Well," she sucked her lip for a moment. "There's something about tragedy, dear. You remember things."

"I'm sorry," I stammered, "I didn't mean to stir up any bad memories."

"No, no, dear. I'm very glad to see this again. But someone is missing." She ran her hand over an empty page that hadn't always been blank. "Where is Shawn?"
Grandma stood and held up her hand to say, "wait". She made the trek to her bedroom and back, returning with a slightly wrinkled 4x6 photo. She tucked it into the book. Shawn was a tall, pale boy with long black hair in a ponytail. I recognized the dress-shirt he wore.

"I won't sugar-coat it, dear," she began again, "With Shawn, well, it was bad, but no less deserving of remembrance.

"After Jeremy, we took a break from fostering. Grandpa took it hard. He was never really cheerful again. He turned bitter. Sometimes he would talk down the whole thing. 'We should never have taken them in', or 'Never got a thing out of it'. Now, I knew that was just hurt-talk, and I think he did too. After a year or so of healing, I convinced him to give it another chance, and that next chance was Shawn. Honestly, there's not much to tell. Shawn was an angry young man. The house was noisy for weeks. One day, well… I guess it was more than I could handle. I landed in the hospital for a few weeks. Grandpa said it was a massive heart attack. Shawn was gone before I came home. And that was that. It was time to take care of ourselves for a while."

Grandma shut the scrapbook and placed it on her coffee table. It was as if it had been part of the room all along.

Back in the motel that evening, my brain was buzzing again. Mixed emotions competed for my attention. Mostly I was in awe of this new avenue of rich family lore. I never saw it coming. It was as if I had just been plugged into a network I'd been disconnected from at birth. There was confusion and a little anger at having been kept in the dark about this, but also, was it really any of my business? Well, it was now. As I left the apartment, Grandma had asked me to let her know if I found anything more about Shawn in the storage unit. Beneath her nervous exterior, there was a lot of love. I wanted to bring her some closure if I could.

I spent the night reading through the papers in the box. The parade of dates and case numbers stood in cold contrast to the smiling photos from the afternoon. Here was the other side of the coin: parents addicted, jailed or dead, leaving their children to the care of strangers. Money in, money out. Doctors, therapists, schools, achievements, pitfalls, everything in numbers printed in ink and signed for. It wasn't all so impersonal. There were several behavioral notes and observations by school guidance counselors. I also found a painfully thorough police report of the 1989 suicide by hanging of Jeremy William Schneider. No mention of Shawn.

I kept at it for hours without feeling the time go by. Around 10 o'clock, my concentration was broken by the sounds of shouting and running somewhere above me. Becoming aware of my surroundings again, I caught sight of a vehicle pealing out of the lot. It seemed as good a time as any to end my day, and I wondered if, for the guest above me, the night had just begun.

It was already past 10 AM when I woke Thursday morning. I kicked myself for sleeping in so late. No free-time for me. After another splendid breakfast burrito and a glass of orange juice, I was ready to get to work.

Back at unit 23 I knelt on the floor, box cutter in hand, ready to take in all there was left to see. There were several more boxes of clothes. One of these stood out as being maternity tops. I packed these boxes in the back passenger seat to take to the Salvation Army. Easy.

Next, I picked up a box that rattled. Building toys and a few untidy clay sculptures that had hardened decades ago. Not all of them were in one piece. I found another box of papers, but this one only had things regarding my grandparents. There were health records, insurance papers, mortgage papers, contracts and records of various sorts. Some were things I wish I'd had back when I moved them.

The contents of the final box put a lump in my throat. It was an Atari 2600 system with a few games. I spotted Adventure, Space Invaders, and Missile Command before closing the box again. After that I didn't feel so much like touching anything. I decided I'd come back for the rest the next day.

The next stop was the Public Health and Human Services office between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.  There was only one woman in the office, Danielle, but there wasn't much "office" to be manned in the first place. She looked to be in her mid 30's with short, curly brown hair and round-framed glasses that gave her an appearance like a mouse. For the next half hour, I stationed myself at a photocopier while Danielle ran documents for me. She seemed to know exactly where to find everything. I wondered if she always worked alone.

By the time I'd gotten the clothes donated and myself back to the Fleming Plaza it was a little after 1. I hauled my box and new folder of photocopies into Inspector Moo Moo's and tucked myself into a table. As I took in the décor, I allowed myself a smile. It looked like I'd be doing my detective work in the right place. In truth, I was here for The Naked Coffee, and I asked the young waitress to keep it coming.

I spent hours poring over papers and making calls to numbers Danielle had scribbled down for me. I'll spare the details. The bottom line was that, while there was definitely record of Shawn being placed with my grandparents, there was absolutely nothing after that. No follow-up of any kind, and no recollection by any state employee. By my 4th cup of coffee I was starting to get concerned. Jittery, but also concerned. Sure, things like this "slip through the cracks" on TV but people don't just disappear from your grandparents' care, right? Reluctantly, I packed up to head out again. The only lead I had left was Grandpa.

At the door to his room inside Care and Comfort Home Services, I paused and took a deep breath. Grandpa had been abrasive in my experiences with him so far, but certainly not mean. Nothing to fear. After a hefty coughing from the other side, I knocked and entered. The room was white, but there were enough homey touches to keep it from looking too sterile. Grandpa lay on the bed looking one degree removed from comfortable under a mauve hand-crocheted woolen afghan from his wife. He seemed both big and small, decades of gruffness at odds with the body's demand for rest. Here and there, a blood vessel wriggled visibly under the skin.

"Yes? What is it?" he growled.

First, I broke the news about the Fleming Storage Units' impending closure. I expected a lecture about going through his things without permission, but he must have understood the urgency of the situation. I was met with only a "harumph". I gave him a full report of the condition of the unit: the rat, the boxes, the bed frame- "hey, you don't need that, right?"

"Nah. Already got me a bed." Fair enough.

There was a silence while I thought about how to proceed. I decided to just go for it. "Grandpa, what happened to Shawn?"

He moved to sit up, but a coughing fit put him back down. "That fuck," concluded the cough.

"There's no trace of him in the unit."

"'Course not."

"The agency doesn't have a record of-"

"Shit happens."


"Hey, you listen," he grumbled, "Don't you go having any kids. Not yours, not no one else's. Ungrateful bastards, nothing but trouble. You're not no exception." He feebly pointed at me and gave another cough. "Bringing up all this shit."

My fists clenched, but this was no time to argue. "What happened, Grandpa?"

His eyes rested on some point above my shoulder as he spoke. "That good-for-nothing was always staying out late, wouldn't tell us where he was, always blowing through his money. Annie didn't see it, but I ain't no goddamn fool. That day he was shouting up a storm and threatening us both. I'd had enough. Was gonna put him in his place. But as soon as it came to blows, Annie fell to the floor." He had a hard look on his face. "As soon as I knew she was safe, I tossed that bastard out onto the street where he belonged. And that's that."

I waited for him to say more, but he didn't. I let go of the breath I didn't realized I'd been holding. "That's it? He just left? Didn't anyone come to check on him? Something?"

"That's all I got to say." Grandpa laid his head on the pillow and wouldn't look at me again.

My brain was buzzing again in total disbelief. My mouth was open. I felt speechless, but I needed to speak. "Hey," I began hesitantly, "That's not fair. Grandma wants to know what happened to Shawn. Just because you feel like…" I swallowed and let myself lose what little cool I had left. "You think you got the short end of the stick, but Grandma loved those kids. I think… I think she got more out of it than you can understand."

Grandpa chuckled, a nasty rasping that turned into a cough. "She sure did get something out of it," he said without looking up, "More than she'll ever know."

I stormed out of the room. I was confused and disgusted by this old man, and I wanted nothing more to do with him for the moment. It was time to get the rest of the boxes. The sooner this storage unit business was over, the better.

On the drive back to Fleming, my flurry of feelings settled one by one. Eventually, all I had left were questions. But there were no leads left.
I opened the sliding metal door one last time and unloaded the remaining boxes into my back seat. As I did, I took a closer look through my grandparents' documents. There were medical records from the time that Grandma was in the hospital for her heart attack. As I pulled them out, I saw a loose paper tucked inside.

I read the medical records first. It wasn't just a simple heart attack. Grandma had an undiagnosed birth defect which had weakened the tissues of her heart, and the heart attack itself just decimated the organ. She would have needed an emergency transplant to survive.

The loose paper was some other kind of report. It was on the hospital letterhead but it read almost like a police report. The evening after it was determined that a transplant was needed, a candidate appeared out of the blue. Dead on arrival, a young white male, late teens, long black hair. He had apparently been the victim of a car accident. A medical examiner, however, noted that the word "accident" may not have been accurate. It appeared that the boy's lower body had been driven over more than once. He bled out. His organs were still in great condition. Nobody had seen how the boy arrived at the emergency room, and the body had never been identified.

Grandma got the young man's heart that very night.

Emotionally exhausted, I shut the door to the storage unit for the last time. I slammed the car door on the boxes of toys, games, records, and that pile of cleaning supplies tucked on the floor. My back seat full of memories, the good, the bad, the ugly, and none of them mine, I drove to my grandmother's apartment. There was nothing in the world I wanted more at that moment than to sit on that couch with a glass of lemonade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017 6:30pm - Inspector Moo Moo’s Malt Shop

A group of local high school theater students put on a Murder Mystery play for the shop’s patrons.
We need to write it! Please review the info on Moo Moo’s in the FSU Plaza document.

The players: Joseph Wentz (Self titled best actor), Katie Phischer (Kinda Shy, On stage she is emboldened), Donna Tennenbaum (Looking for extracurriculars for college), Dirk Trackston (Jock who needed to participate or lose his spot on the team Doing it for his senior project), Sandra Martinson (The Short One), Jennifer Smith (Teenage waitress at Moo Moo’s)


Please Do:
- Tell us your Unit # if you're going to attend
- Brainstorm PLOT, CHARACTER and STAGING in this thread
- Think of subtle ways this play can AFFECT YOUR CHARACTER

Please Don't:
- Steal the show; We would like to have as many characters in attendance as would like to come, so let's collaborate!
- Be shy! If you have a tiny idea? Throw it out there! If you have a big idea? Let's hear it! We'll figure this out together.

The story so far:
- lol nothing yet. Get to it!

Fleming Storage Units WIPs / Location Collaboration
« on: 05:22 PM, 10/31/17 »
Hey guys! Please post your character/summary info over in the Masterlist thread! Let's see if we can trim this down to just locations and times.

Okay! This is the Location Collaboration thread. Big thanks to Lavecki for running the events thread and helping to collect/organize info!

Please post things like this:
Unit #xx is going to be at PLACE on DATE at TIME. Describe what can be seen/heard/smelled/sensed at this time and any relevant details.
So people can NOTICE YOU!

REMEMBER: Collaboration doesn't have to result in a big event, or even dialog! It can be as simple as dedicating a single sentence to noticing another character's actions or presence.
"Subtlety is king, detail is queen, and less is always more."

Fleming Plaza Information here

Detailed weather Forecast here

Location ideas we don't have yet:
Hotel; Truck/Trailer rental; Auto-repair garage; Halloween store; Post office; Police station



Fleming Plaza Information here

Super 8 hotel, 1901 US-2, Havre, MT 59501 [Website] (#6, #35, #44, #116, #132)
-- ROOMS CLAIMED: 105, 111, 134, 202, 219, 221
--"Ugly purple linens with big lime green circles on them on everything from the bed to the curtains, nice flat screen TV, and a free continental breakfast." (#132)
--"while their continental breakfast is wide and varied in its fair, it's also not very good (stale cereals, sweating danishes, warm fruit juice)." (#35)
--"Super 8 night manager is an overly perky woman in her late 40s named Rita" (#132)
--Other guests: "a tall, thin, bespectacled woman with curly blonde hair, and her two children aged ~6 and 9. While the lot of them are reasonably quiet, the children will not shut the hell up about the hotel's lack of pool." They are in room 221 (#35)

Best Western Plus Great Northern Inn, 1345 1st St, Havre, MT 59501 [Website] (#64)
--There's a separate building that allows pets!

Siesta Motel, 600 1st St, Havre, MT 59501 [Website] (#23, #92)
-- Has 2 floors
-- There will be a noisy disturbance here around 10pm on the 11th.

"Cheapest motel" (#94)
Cheap hotel (#105)


Events/Time Stuff
Various times:
Stars and Bards: There are mannequins donning costumes here. #50 might know something about that...
Lantern Buffet: #49 family will probably visit most nights

Tuesday, October 10:
Stars and Bards:
--#51 is here around noon to show something to Gregg

Unit #51: Mid Afternoon - Unit #51 will be sitting in the driver's seat of a U-Haul van crying (Please leave him alone).

Unit #68: (around 6pm) Ned from #68 will need help loading a couple filing cabinets, and some boxes of paperwork. Be a good neighbor and help him!

Marg Madness:
--#40 will probably stop by sometime

Inspector Moo Moo's:
--#64 will be by sometime

Sommerville Wine Emporium:
-- #6 will be here at 8pm, people-watching (also on the 11th)

Wednesday, October 11:
Stars and Bards:
-- #98, Ned, will be visiting Stars and Bards first thing in the morning
--#17 will be bringing some 80's toys in around noon to see if they're worth anything. Stop in for a look! [Post]

Marg Madness:
--#44 will be here after 6pm

Sommerville Wine Emporium:
-- #6 will be here at 8pm, people-watching (also on the 10th)

Thursday, October 12:
-- attending the play: #23, #132 (PLEASE JOIN if interested! We need to write the show!)
-- #23 will be hanging around most of the day, though, but would appreciate if you don't disturb her focus

Lantern Buffet:
--Unit 39 will be here at 4pm, he'll be seeing a redheaded woman rush out before she gets any food at 4:30 pm. She'll have dropped a $20 on the table before leaving. She has a pixie cut, red hair, green eyes, a small birth mark in the shape of a comma below her lip, she's only like 5'7". Please do notice her if you're around the plaza at 4:30!

Stars and Bards:
-- #5's two sons visit around 9 or 10am
-- #44 will stop by in the morning to play Street Fighter

Marg Madness:
-- #5 and family will be here at 11am

Hopper's Consignment
-- #5 and family will be by around noon
-- #17 will be here at 4:30pm. "He speaks with Hopper for a few minutes before running out of the store, seemingly frightened, or harried about something. Once outside, Gregg from Stars and Bards yells to him "Thanks again for that Blowtorch! I've got a bit of a bidding war going on here for him!" (Blowtorch is a G.I. Joe figure.) But Dan just runs away to his truck in the parking lot."

Unit 40: Unit 40 will be playing sweet sounds of saxophone blues in the afternoon. How does your character feel about the blues?

Unit 110: The smell of holiday spices can be detected wafting in the area from afternoon to evening!

Space For Rent:
-- #35's truck will be parked outside until closing time [Post]

Friday, October 13:
FSU Gate:
-- Deputy Scherker will having a quick conversation with #52 at about noon.

Plaza parking lot:
-- #116 will be sitting in her truck ~1-2pm

Unit 20: A GUNSHOT will be heard at exactly 4:38pm. NOT HAPPENING ANYMORE ACTUALLY. Sorry.

Unit 35: #35's truck will be parked by the unit. [Post]
They'll be here and at their unit around 11am

Unit 39: Unit 39 will be throwing boxes into their unit from noon to 6pm.

Unit 50: At 4:30pm... well, sex sounds can be heard from within. No need to investigate... Just... react...

Unit 90: #90 will be beating the heck out of a keyboard (the piano kind) early in the morning. Poor guy...

Unit 92: around 5pm Several men, one of whom was fairly disheveled and beaten up, talking outside of unit 92

Unit 116: #116 will be at their unit from 11am to 1pm

Marg Madness:
-- #116 will drop by at 2pm
-- #132 will be in for a chimichanga

Saturday, October 14:
Lantern Buffet: #58 will be here

Inspector Moo Moo's:
-- #116 will be here at 10am, staring at a notebook. Interaction welcome!


The People List
"#5 is a small family, father in his late 50's and two sons one in his early 20's the other high school age, the father reeks of tobacco smoke and is clearly a backwoods hunter of a sort, the elder son obviously follows in the footsteps as well but the younger son seems a  They would be recognized as the males of the Huxley family to any locals, they are well known for heading out of town and hunting in the Rockies several times a year and this time of year is right around when they would be going for the last time."
they'll be visiting their unit at the crack of dawn on the 12th and will stay until about noon, the two sons will be checking out the stars and bards sometime around 9 or 10 while their dad has a pipeful in the units. the whole family will be popping into the Tex-Mex restaurant around 11 and finally the consignment store right around noon before they drive off out of town to the west.

"Unit #6 here.  He is a microwave engineer who would is on a specific mission and has to talk with only a couple key individuals.  Still, he will be at whatever common cafe there is in town in his off-time, drinking coffee.  Although is from out of town, he was born and raised in Havre for about 9 years. He will be checking in to the Super 8 in room 202 at 3 PM on October 10th, leaving on the 14th. [Post]

"Unit 11 ... went to the wedding on the 9th, ... did some hangover recovery on the 10th, and [present papers to storage facility] on the morning of the 11th. They are eventually going to Marg Madness in the evening of the 11th or 12th depending on if I want or need the story to last 2 days. The niece, Mary Ann, is going to the Stars and Bards sometime around noon to mid-afternoon on the 11th." [Post]

"FSU-13 here... Surely out of town and surely being sliiiightly odd. Comes to retrieve inherited stuff from her late grandmother's storage, who was a Harve resident a few years or so. Her house is sold now and most of the current owner's belongings are in FSU-13." [Post]

#17 will be bringing some 80's toys (GI Joe, Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony, Pound Puppies) in to Stars and Bards on the 11th! [Post]

"Unit #23's character is an out-of-towner who will be staying in a hotel. Looking for at least one other character to stay in the same hotel to share some kind of experience." (That's me. ^_^)

"35: The unit is actually owned by Shannon Gorski, and Mr. 35 (Michael Danvers) is helping her by clearing it out after she was wheelchair bound by an automotive accident last month. He's not thrilled about it, but he is curious." Staying at the Super 8. "He drives a 1978 Chevy pickup truck (white on red motif, you know the one) which he inherited from his uncle." [Definitely see Post for details on that truck!] [Post]
Getting a room at the Super 8 at ~7 p.m., Thursday the 12th. Protag will be carrying two moderately sized cardboard boxes, and will likely look a little road-weary.
Unless it's already claimed, I'll take room 119, which would put that trio (tall woman and two annoying children) next door in room 121.
Will leave the hotel on Friday the 13th, a little after 10 a.m., carrying the same boxes. Will arrive at the storage units around 11 a.m.

"39 is from out of town, but his mother lives in town on a farm just outside the town. He might swing by the Lantern Buffet on the 12th, but it's really up in the air right now." [Post]
"Unit 39 will definitively be going to Lantern at 4pm on the 12th, he'll be seeing a redheaded woman rush out before she gets any food at 4:30 pm. She'll have dropped a $20 on the table before leaving."

"This is unit 40 here, my guys a local who works at the local hospital. Probably going to Marge Madness on the 10th" [Post]

"Unit #44 here. A 27-year-old woman from Powell, Wyoming ... Gonna grab a drink at Marg Madness on the 11th after 6:00 pm, hit the hay at the Super 8, then play some Street Fighter at Stars & Bards the next morning before leaving Havre." [Post]

"Unit 49 here. My character is an 18-year-old girl who lives just outside of town. She will be at the unit from 2:30 to 6:00 on the 10-13 and was there all day on the 14. ... My main character drives a royal blue mini van with her sister and brother. Her friend's dad drives a black and red pick-up truck with this friend. After they are done most knights they dicide to go to the Latern buffet. So, if you want to run in to them you know whair." [Post]

"Hello, neighbor, 51 here. Although you might not see my guy, he's getting there on the 10th and wants to get everything cleared out as soon as possible. Might be gone by the time you get there." [Post]

"Number 52: A bearded man of about 40 in a brown leather jacket will drive a fairly beaten-up but well maintained white van up to the unit at about noon on the 13th." [See Post for more Details] [Post]

"I'm #60 and there will be two people (a couple) who recently moved to this town from the town over. They're currently both working and planning on getting married sometime next year. I'd be happy to interact with other people in any way. Also my storage container has old childhood memorabilia in it (drawings, photos, home movies, old toys/stuffed animals, etc.)"[Post]

"Unit #64 belonged to my character's older brother who moved to Havre around 2005 to work at the Too Close For Comfort archeological site after college.  ...  At some point she'll be visiting Hopper's Firearms." [Post]
"Claira will be at Unit 64 on the 10th around 10AM and leave around 11AM with a small safe ( and the big container of LEGO.  She drives a black 1989 Ford Bronco with North Dakota plates.  Mr. Whiskers, a Maine Coon, will be in the vehicle and likely on the dashboard watching people or sleeping while Claira is inside the unit." [Post]

"Unit #88 here. Kim, a former resident of Havre, returning to his home town to help his cousin "Teach" finally go through his deceased parents storage unit." Will be going to Stars and Bards on the 11th or 12th to get rid of some tabletop/card games. [Post]

"I'm Unit 90. 90 keeps to himself, 90 just wants to get his shit and get out." [Post]

"I'm Unit 92, he's staying in the cheapest motel he could find and is trying to keep attention off of himself and his cargo." [Post]

"Unit 94, Old Punk who is fairly friendly but rough and not one to censor herself. Smokes a lot and is very into the cheap margaritas at Marg Madness, came with a cousin who bails on her almost instantly and is staying at the cheapest motel she can find." [Post]

"#98 will most likely be staying close by. There's a lot of files to get packed away, and he isn't going to miss out on checking Stars and Bards for his secret spinning love." "#98, Ned, will need help loading a couple filing cabinets, and some boxes of paperwork near the end of the day. He will also be visiting Stars and Bards first thing in the morning. [Post]

"Hi! #100 is back in her hometown to empty out the storage unit she inherited from a friend she hasn't seen or spoken to in years." [Post]

#105 "two characters who are out of towners who are actually just stopping by on their way to a convention. ... They'll definitely want to stay at a cheep hotel but their priority is getting out in a timely manor. They'll go to Marg Madness often. There from the 10th to the 12th." [Post]

"Hey, Unit #116 here. My character is returning to the hometown of her estranged parents; she'll probably be staying in a motel close by." [Post]
Staying in Room 134 at the Super 8, from the afternoon of October 12th to the morning of October 15th

"Unit 132 here. My girl is a 30 year old Estate Liquidator she is a bit strange but perky she has decided to stay at the old Super 8 a little ways down the street." "My gal will be staying in room 105 so if someone wants to have a run in with me you know where to find me." [Post]

General Discussion / Halloween Mad Libs! [GO FOR IT!]
« on: 08:29 PM, 10/24/17 »
Edit: I'm just gonna unhide the stories because WTF spoiler tags... XD

Hey everyone! I was boooored at work today, so I scribbled out a few spoopy/silly Mad Libs for you all!
Feel free to share your results OR write your own for us!

1. Choose a set of words to fill out! Choose words! Write them down!
2. Go back and get the story! Fill in your words! Share the results! No cheating! =)

Word Sets:
[Person/Proper Noun], [Adjective], [Color], [Shape], [Scent], [Number], [Object], [Adjective] [Body Part], [Verb], [Noun], [Same Person as before], [Verb], [Verb], [Exclamation]

[Day of the Week], [Body Part], [Adjective], [Neg. Adjective], [-ing Verb], [Color], [Body Part], [Noun], [Location]

[Year], [Object], [Food], [Adjective], [Number], [Friend's Name], [Transitive -ing Verb], [Object], [Adjective], [Profession], [Insulting Noun]

[Adjective], [Adjective], [Animal], [Liquid], [Profession], [Container], [Color], [Spooky Objects], [Animal], [Adjective], [Health Food], [Candy], [Neg. Adjective]

Full stories below! (Line breaks to help you not spoil yourself:

Full stories! No cheating, now!
These instructions are for the sole purpose of summoning [Person]. Proceed with caution, for this process may be [Adjective]. First, with [Color] chalk, draw a [Shape] on a flat surface. Light four [Scent] candles and place them in the corners of the work area. Place [Number] [Object](s) in the center. With a/n [Adjective] knife, sprinkle blood from your [Body Part] over the entire area. Recite the words, "I command you to [Verb], for I am your [Noun]!" [Same Person as before] will appear and [Verb] for you. To dismiss them you must [Verb] 3 times and say "[Exclamation]!" Perform this ritual at your own risk.

Congratulations! You're a zombie! How did it all come to this? Well, it all started last [Day of the Week] when your neighbor bit you on the [Body Part]. Wasn't that [Adjective] of him? By the afternoon you were feeling a bit [Neg. Adjective] and it wasn't long before you were [-ing Verb] uncontrollably. You looked in the mirror; your face was [Color] and your [Body Part] was barely hanging on! Soon, you developed an insatiable hunger for [Noun](s), and you've been wandering around (the) [Location] ever since! Good hunting, my undead friend!

Hey! You're a ghost! What the heck happened to you? Well, you died on this day in [Year]. You were minding your own business when you tripped over a/n [Object] and choked on your [Food]. What a/n [Adjective] way to go! Your funeral was attended by [Number] of your closest friends and family. You've chosen to spend her afterlife haunting [Friend's Name]'s house, [Transitive -ing Verb] their furniture and hiding their [Object]. After all they're the one who suggested your epitaph be, "[Adjective] [Profession] and [Insuring Noun]."

[Adjective] Halloween ever! You wanted to dress up as a/n [Adjective] [Animal], but due to an unfortunate [Liquid] accident, you had to switch to a/n [Profession]. So, you grabbed your [Container] and headed out. Thing were going okay until the [Color] house on the corner. The yard was decorated with [Spooky Objects] and [Animal] skeletons. An old woman answered the door. "My, what a/n [Adjective] costume!" she said, handing you a/n [Health Food]. Before she closed the door, she ate a/n [Candy] right in front of you! How [Neg. Adjective]! You won't be back next year.

Story Critique / Grandma Gifts
« on: 09:40 PM, 10/22/17 »
My grandma has always been a bit funny, at least as long as I've been alive. I don't know that there's anything wrong with her, mentally. Sometimes she'll say things and do things that seem completely nonsensical, and just when we think it's finally come to dementia, Grandma makes it clear that she's 100% with it. "I have my reasons," she says, "that's all."

I used to seriously doubt that but… well, here's my "funny grandma" story, anyway.

When I turned 12, she gave me a beautiful decorative castle for my birthday. This seemed like a very "grandma" thing to do. Every Christmas she would give me some new statuette of an angel or a bird, or sometimes even a Precious Moments figure. Actually, I miss the Precious Moments gifts. I wonder why she stopped buying those. Anyway, it was a small castle I could hold in one hand. It was covered in glitter and fit right in with the fantasy theme I was into at the time. I grinned and thanked her, and put her gift on my dresser where I could see it from my bed.

For the next few birthdays, "girly" décor was definitely in. At 13, Grandma gave me this rad conch shell the size of my shoe. I was awed to receive something so fragile for my own bedroom and I treated it with care. Next came a jar full of beach glass. That was really something, because we lived far from any large body of water and I'd never seen beach glass before. My mom helped me turn that jar into a base for a lamp. It's been by my bed ever since.

None of this is "funny" so far, right? Well, things took a turn for the weird on my Sweet 16. My family went out of their way to make it special for me. I inherited a car from Dad, Mom let me pick out designer shoes for the first time in my life, and even my sister put aside our sibling difference long enough to bake cupcakes. While it may have been a bit selfish, I did have some high expectations for my "grandma gift" that year. Can you blame a girl?

I pulled back the sandy-colored tissue paper to reveal a 7.06 oz bottle of Tetra brand TetraFin Goldfish Flakes. Nobody knew what to say. Mom looked exasperated, but she kept her mouth shut. I just gave a polite laugh and said, "Hey Grandma, did you get me a fish to go with it?"

"You'll get plenty of use out of it, I'm sure," she replied serenely. "I've got my reasons." After that, my parents started getting her screened for Alzheimer's on a regular basis. She passes every test with flying colors, though, even now.

My reaction to the fish food was tactful, sure, but privately, I was really disappointed and freaked out. I was so mad to have gotten such a crappy gift, but I was also concerned for Grandma. All I could do was hope this was an isolated incident and hold my breath for next year.
It didn't get better. The next gift was a scuba-diver figurine, cheap plastic and clearly meant for an aquarium. The year after that… plastic seaweed. So, now I'm an adult; an adult who doesn't look forward to presents from Grandma anymore.

This year, my living situation changed. Ready for some independence, I moved in with some of my high school friends. We rented a cheap house on the river that was a short walk from the local college. It's a bit of a dump, but it's just nice to have our own space. My two friends have rooms on the first floor while my room and "the party room" are in the basement. Things went great for the first few months.

And then it rained. I mean it REALLY rained. If you're following me so far, I think you see where this is going. The night before my 19th birthday, I sleepily got out of bed to use the bathroom at some inconvenient hour. My bare feet sank into shin-deep water. It was freezing. I stumbled and splashed and I screamed for my roomies to wake up. One of them turned on the light at the top of the stairs, and I could see water gushing in from the ground-level windows. The water was brown and it was rising. My friends shouted out encouragement to me as I struggled to the stairs and ran up to their waiting arms. I was soaked, and we were all freaking out. We had no idea what to do besides call home.

The next morning found me back at my parents' house. I'd had a hot shower and a hot breakfast and a long, hard cry into my mom's shoulder. By the afternoon things were calming down. Dad was on the phone with insurance and whoever else you call when flooding happens. Mom brought in the mail. My birthday gift from Grandma came. It was an ocean-print beach towel depicting several colorful fish.

I heaved the deepest sigh I've needed to heave in my life. I don't think I can say she knew what was coming. After all, I didn't *really* get any use out of that fish-tank stuff. But whatever it was, I guess she did have a reason.

Wide Ruled Spiral Notebook (Found in the Back Seat of a Blue Sedan)

I'm writing this in my dad's car because it's the only place Mom can't get to me, I think. I can see her watching me in the mirrors though. My name is Hunter and I'm 12. I don't know what's going to happen. Whoever reads this, please believe me.

My mom was a really good person. She made the best hash browns and she was a civil engineer. She smiled a lot. She worked from home as much as possible because she loved spending time with me and Dad. Togetherness was important to her, she would say. Mom loved me so much. That's why she protected me at the cost of her life.

In February, we were crossing the street and there was a van that couldn't stop. They said Mom shielded me with her body. I only remember that it was cold and everything hurt. Mom was hugging me. She was warm. I could feel her breath on my neck, and then I couldn't.
I was in the hospital for a few days. Then I went to my first funeral. Mom was wearing a clean gray suit and looked like she was sleeping. Her expression was soft. I kept thinking about how I would never see her smile again. I couldn't stop crying.

Dad has been doing his best since the accident. I've been trying to help around the house. It's hard because sometimes it's a lot of work. Sometimes I feel too tired and sad to do anything. I think Dad has days like that too, but he wouldn't say so. He's a really good dad. Maybe I should have told him that more.

In March I started seeing Mom. Sometimes I would see her in a window. She looked far away, like if I would run down the street I would find her. It seemed like the kind of thing my imagination would do, so I didn't tell anyone. I was just happy to see her again. Over the next few weeks, she got closer and closer until it looked like she was in the room with me and looking out the window. I saw that she wasn't smiling. I felt weird, like something hard was sinking into my stomach. If this was all in my head, why wouldn't she look happy?

One day I put my hand on the glass. It was cold. Mom put her hand against mine. It was colder.
That night I asked Dad if he had seen Mom. I told him about the windows. He said he hadn't seen her and he went quiet. He looked sad. I think he didn't know what to say. We hugged and said goodnight.

The next morning when I went to brush my teeth, Mom was in the mirror. It was weird to see her so clearly and so close, but I missed her. Wanting a good look at her face, I leaned in close. Her eyelids were droopy and her face was long. It looked like how it feels when you let out a heavy sigh and forget to breathe in again. I think I made that face for a while after the funeral. As I leaned in, the medicine cabinet started to rattle. I saw Mom reach out to me just before the cabinet door swung open. I fell backwards. When I closed the door again she wasn't there.

In April I came home from school one day and Mom was standing in the hallways clear as day. I dropped my backpack and stared at her. She looked so sad. Dad looked down the hall, then at me. "What is it?" he asked. Mom didn't move or blink.

"She's right there," I said. Dad looked down the hall again for a long moment and sighed. He knelt down and turned me to face him.
He told me not to be afraid. I was lucky to see Mom. She must have come back to see me because she missed me as much as I missed her. Mom was standing behind him now. Her head was bent and her arms were folded across her chest like she was holding something precious. I asked Dad if he was sure. They both nodded.

I wanted to believe him. It hurt to be scared of my own mom, seeing that weird sad stare on her face made the hard feeling in my stomach come back. If Dad could have seen her, I don't think he would have said I was lucky. I'm glad he couldn't see.

Mom started to show up all over the place, every day. At school I kept my eyes on my desk so I couldn't see her watching me. At home I stayed close to Dad so I wouldn't be alone with her. I like running errands with Dad now because I don't see her much when I'm in the car. When I do, she stays far away. I thought maybe she didn't like cars because of how she died, so wouldn't come for me in here. I guess I was wrong. She's standing in front of the garage door now. This is the closest I've ever seen her to the car.

Now it's May. Last week, Mom started hanging around Dad. He still can't see her, but I think he can feel her. The weather is getting warmer but he's still wearing heavy sweaters. I started checking on Dad when he's sleeping. Mom's in the doorway when I get out of bed. Mom's down the hallway when I sneak to Dad's room. Mom's standing over Dad while he's asleep under his winter quilt. I don't think there's anything I can do.

Tonight things got bad. When I checked on Dad, Mom was in bed with him. She was hugging him tight and staring at me. They were slowly sinking into the bed. I freaked out. I ran into the room yelling for Dad to wake up. Mom vanished as he sprang out of bed and hugged me. I told him what I saw. Dad didn't believe me. He said it was a dream. I know I'm too old for this, but I asked if I could sleep with him tonight and he said it was okay.

Most days when I try to remember the accident, the details are foggy. Just now though, tonight, I could see and feel it clearly in my dreams. I could hear the van's tires grinding and sliding on the ice. I could feel the cold and the wet when I fell into the slush. Mom's arms around me. Goosebumps. Chills.
The mattress started to creak and bend beneath me like something heavy was pushing down on it. I opened my eyes. Mom was there in the bed where Dad should have been. Her arms were around me.

I wrestled free of her grip and ran. I panicked. I only grabbed my backpack on the way out. I wasn't thinking. I have no phone and no keys. I've been honking the horn, but there might not be anyone close enough to hear.

I don't know what to do. I was wrong about the car being safe. Mom is pressed against the glass now. Her arms are spread open like a hug. Her cheeks are twitching her lonely frown into something else. That is no smile I've ever seen.

I don't know what to do. I don't know what you can do. If you find this, please help. Dad, I love you. Please help me. It's freezing in here. I can feel her breath on my neck.

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